Bode Miller had dominated all the training runs at Rosa Khutor, but when it came down to race day, he finished over half a second off the pace, good only for eighth place at the end of the day. His gold medal aspirations ended in a mere two minutes, six seconds.
He started off on an incredible pace, but he clipped a gate about halfway through the run, which took him completely out of sync. He struggled to get his rhythm back for the rest of the race, pushing just to get close to Matthias Mayer of Austria, the eventual gold medal winner.
While this is certainly not the start to the Games that Miller could have imagined, it’s not over yet, as he still has Super G and Combined events coming up. Then again, this was supposed to be Miller’s race for the taking. With five Winter Olympic medals already to his name, he’ll now have his work cut out for him if he is to add to the collection in 2014.
It was a surprising event overall, as Miller’s chief rival, Aksel Lund Svindal, could never get any type of rhythm going either, fighting just to make the podium. He was pushed out by Italian Christof Innerhofer, whose nearly flawless run left him 0.06 seconds back of Mayer, taking silver.
“I felt like I skied OK today,” Miller told NBC after the race. “I am disappointed I didn’t get a medal but I really — I brought huge intensity and I skied aggressive. I was pushing the line. The conditions didn’t favor me today. That’s the case a lot of the time in World Cup. You just have to deal with it.”
While it would be easy to dismiss Miller’s chances of a medal following this disappointment, it’s important to remember why he was looked at as such a big favorite coming in. He knows this venue as well as anybody, and he has nothing left to slow him down. These are all but certainly his last Olympics, and his style has always been all-or-nothing. If he’s never been afraid to crash before in his quest for glory, what’s going to stop him now? Don’t be surprised if Miller uses this disappointment as pure motivation in his remaining events.